Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Ballymaloe House

One of the things which I had organised before heading home for Easter was booking in for lunch at Ballymaloe House. It has a special link with our family because Ballymaloe was where Ma Chan completed the now well renowned 3-month certificate course in cooking at Ballymaloe Cookery School with Darina Allen.......almost 20 years ago! (Ma Chan also likes to remind me that it was me who had brought Darina to her attention all those years ago when I watched Darina on TV and encouraged her to sit down and watch the programme as well).

I can't even remember the last time we ate at Ballymaloe, probably when I was still a teenager but not much has changed since then. The roads into Ballymaloe have improved a little but that didn't stop us from getting a little lost! We arrived just in time to be seated for Sunday lunch which is always a hot buffet. First, we were served some soup with home-made soda bread before being invited to help ourselves to the buffet for our mains. The food is not aspiring to be Michelin-star but it is honest, very delicious and typically for rural Ireland, there is LOTS of it! After 1 helping and a bit of the main course, we chose our desserts from the trolley which was circulating around the dining room....not a great choice and a little disappointing but I also had one of the yummiest vanilla ice creams ever which can't be that bad!
After lunch, we popped over to the cookery school to reminisce with Ma Chan, had a quick look in the shop and bumped into Darina's husband, Tim (who used to take Ma Chan's breadmaking courses) and her son, Toby (who is on the cover of Myrtle Allen's Ballymaloe Cookbook and also featured in a Hot Chocolate recipe in Simply Delicious Christmas). Despite it being Easter, Toby very generously showed us around the cookery school which was pretty exciting for me (also to be able to compare and contrast to Ferrandi) - we even saw the kitchen where they film Rachel Allen's new TV series.....a bit surreal! After a wander around the grounds, it was time to head east and back home. A really brilliant day, hopefully, I will get to go back sooner next time - we have already been invited to go to lunch at the school the next time so looking forward to that!!

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